In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our podcast conversation with Chance Irvine, a worldwide known expert IT consultant with more than 20 years of experience in planning and implementing cloud readiness and agile transformation for many industries such as telecommunications, manufacturing, and online marketplace technologies.

We need to have a good blend of different talents.

Here Are The Biggest Takeaways

  • Everything about the pre-cloud era – 04.36
  • Challenges in Delivering the Promise of a Company – 15.19
  • Opportunities from the e-Commerce industry – 25.29
  • Advice from an expert – 29.45

Welcome to Growth Interviews!

Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating, and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth. Our mission is to provide valuable insights from the eCommerce arena, and each episode is a fascinating quest into the best-kept business secrets and money-making strategies of an insightful world-class expert.

Recognized as a thought leader for cloud and agile transformation for established businesses, Chance Irvine is assisting organizations to discover their path from their current state to their effective target within cloud and agile opportunities as well as options for appropriate partners that match the needs of their journey ahead.

For more than 20 years, Chance Irvine orchestrated the procurement, implementation and operational management of technology infrastructure resources, greatly improving reliability and stability for various organizations. He is instrumental in team development across IT operations, software, and product development, collaborating with business leaders to make changes in skillset and mindset for constant improvement and increased effectiveness for business growth.

Everything About the Pre-Cloud Era

Diagram of the Pre-cloud Era depicting a monolithic application with components like business logic, asynchronous interactions, synchronous communication, stateful workflow orchestration, and runtime management, built on self-managed static infrastructure with native protocols, operating system APIs, and static IPs.

The Pre-Cloud Mindset

Flowchart illustrating the process from "Discover" to "Realize" with stages: Value Discovery, Prepare (Business Processes, Landscape Setup, Fiori Activation), Explore (Workshops, Document Findings, Planning and Design), Q-Gate, and Solution Realization, including steps for integration, extensibility, output management, and release planning.

The last decade has been a constant revolution in information technology. During our Growth Interviews talk with Chance Irvine, he drew us a mind map of the times before and after the era of the cloud. Previously, the main roles of IT leaders were to minimize expenses and provide the company with good solutions without necessarily looking at the latest technologies. 

Management expectations focused on resource administration and using technology to save money. This expense center mindset, although healthy and reasonable, has become obsolete post-cloud transition. Information technology has become a value-adding accelerator and, in many cases, the most important driver of change and economic improvement for a company.

The Evolving Role of IT Leaders

Infographic illustrating key aspects of leadership: guidance, solution, goal, motivation, communication, plan, vision, and direction.

The role of technology experts has grown significantly and diversified. IT departments have become strategic for any healthy business. Leaders in IT are no longer just administrators of technological and human resources but pivotal points between the old and new ways of thinking about technology and business growth. 

“You need to realize that sometimes you need to translate to language that makes your business counterpart comfortable with the change that needs to occur because change is scary for everyone,” emphasized Chance Irvine. Referring to top management from the pre-cloud era, he added, “You need to be their partner in helping them understand how technology can help facilitate new sales business growth to replace inefficient human processes.”

Bridging the Gap Between Technologists and Business Leaders

Illustration of people collaborating in an office environment with charts and graphs displayed on the walls, showcasing teamwork and data analysis.

Changes are not easy, especially in IT, and they can be scary for non-technical managers. Helping everyone understand the benefits of technology at a human level is often the most important step. Without understanding, there will never be trust, and developments, new implementations, and other projects might suffer delays or failures due to a lack of trust. 

There are talented technologists and talented business leaders. According to Chance Irvine, the most important task is to create a bridge between the two so that the real value of technology can be reached. “It’s especially scary when a non-technical person is experiencing a change that is effectively driven through or by technology and technologists. That’s very scary. And it in most cases shouldn’t be.”

Challenges in Delivering the Promise of a Company

Infographic titled "Reasons Not to Overpromise" listing four points: losing credibility, negative posts and ratings, developing a bad reputation, and experiencing a downturn in financial performance.

Managing Incremental Development and Technical Debt

Diagram titled "The Impact of Tech Debt," illustrating the effects on Business (survival, finances, reputation, efficiency, customer satisfaction), Product (functionality, delivery, downtime, risks), Team (speed, morale, retention), and Code (bugs, quality, complexity).

Most companies nowadays have a strong IT component, often developed incrementally from a small app or tool. This incremental development of systems and applications is, in Chance Irvine’s view, one of the most challenging aspects when implementing new technology meant to push the company forward.

The first challenge is the technical debt of the platform, as Irvine calls it. Technical debt includes all the IT developments from before the existence of agile and decentralized apps when most apps were centralized and grew on top of each other until they became a ‘monolith.’ Monoliths represent a mentality that still prevails in many companies. Although new technologies are desired and proposed, the first thing that must change is the mentality.

Agile methodology, small-size component solutions, decentralized apps, and API strategies have lately become the norm in IT developments. Implementing and adopting them is a multi-phase project that must be understood to be adopted.

Understanding the Transformational Process

Diagram titled "Transformation Process" showing inputs (material, machines, customers, labor, management, capital, information), transformation process involving management, employees, patients, and environment, leading to outputs (goods and services) and outcomes (total satisfaction and added value).

The second challenge in delivering the promise of a company is the full understanding of the transformational process from the side of top managers and its implications. Many are reluctant and disregard transformations until the company starts to lose money, clients, and resources in obvious ways. Then, transformations become critical and urgent, creating high pressure and misunderstandings across teams.

On the other hand, some leaders, due to a mix of the need to keep the company competitive and a lack of information, consider implementations as easy tasks and set overly optimistic project delivery targets. The pressure is even higher in this case, and as Chance Irvine concluded, “they claim a failure of implementation” due to a pre-existing state of dissatisfaction from a lack of knowledge and understanding.

“A lot of these strategies, if you’re a brand new company, you can just start with them and you’re good to go because you have no technical debt or legacy solutions to deal with. But many companies have these issues, and they can apply these new strategies but must have realistic expectations that it will take time to overcome the baggage from the past.”

Bridging Old and New Technologies and Mentalities

Illustration contrasting old and new office technology: rotary phone, typewriter, and film camera on the left; laptop, smartphone, and digital camera on the right.

To deliver the promise of a company, IT leaders must bridge old and new technologies and mentalities. Despite market and competitor pressure, transitions should begin with planning the best way to fulfill the company’s promise and identifying the best tactics in terms of technology.

“These things take time, and having clarity with your counterparts on what that investment will look like is crucial. Investment is an important word because sometimes it’s time, not necessarily additional dollars. It’s about investing the human resources we already have differently,” concluded Chance Irvine.

Opportunities in the E-commerce Industry

Illustration of e-commerce showing a laptop on a desk surrounded by icons for online payment, shopping cart, product delivery, and web search.

The e-commerce rapid global development creates new opportunities for an impressive range of technological developments and tools. From this perspective, Chance Irvine is a very optimistic expert, really excited about the future.

From the smallest solutions to API strategy type of solutions, e-commerce represents an exciting arena for creative tech development. Being able to build what e-commerce businesses need, to have the opportunity to provide the tools that execute the transactions within their marketplace is the most important opportunity Chance Irvine sees. “To me, the most exciting piece would be to be the supplier of the tools behind the scenes than to be a particular marketplace in itself.”

For mid-sized IT companies, from the business point of view, the biggest opportunities are coming from niche solutions that even the biggest players are using and Chance Irvine explained to us very plainly in our talk: 

In today’s world if I’m a mid-sized company, do I want to be the marketplace that sells a particular item very well or would I rather be the supplier of all of the tools that ten thousand marketplaces use? Would I rather make a whole bunch of money on one item, or do I want to make a small fraction of money on one hundred and fifty million transactions a day? I’ll take a small part of one hundred and fifty million transactions! The opportunity to be a player in e-commerce today to be the solution underneath the covers.”

Conclusion

For many companies and their business leaders, new technologies and tools seem like the right answer for quickly solving a lot of problems that are adding more and more pressure through their lack of obvious solutions. But all companies have a past, a point zero where technology became a part, and from that everything else just piled up. 

The first place to start is understanding that tech solutions may sometimes come with systemic changes inside a company and understanding that the first thing to start working on is the mentality of what those technologies are doing for the company.

We hope you enjoyed our podcast interview with Chance Irvine.
For more valuable insights, make sure you come back to check out our next Growth Interviews as well. 

FAQs

What are some strategies for overcoming technical debt in an established company?

Overcoming technical debt in an established company involves several strategies, including refactoring existing code, updating legacy systems, and implementing agile methodologies. Prioritizing high-impact areas and gradually modernizing systems can help manage the debt. 

Engaging in regular code reviews, adopting microservices architecture, and investing in continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) practices can also mitigate the accumulation of technical debt.

How can IT leaders effectively communicate the benefits of new technologies to non-technical stakeholders?

IT leaders can effectively communicate the benefits of new technologies to non-technical stakeholders by using clear, jargon-free language and focusing on the business value. Demonstrating how technology can solve existing problems, improve efficiency, and drive business growth is crucial. 

Providing real-world examples, case studies, and visual aids such as infographics can help illustrate the potential impact. Regularly involving stakeholders in discussions and updates ensures they understand and support the technological transformations.

What are the key considerations for planning and implementing agile transformations in a company with a strong legacy system?

Key considerations for planning and implementing agile transformations in a company with a strong legacy system include understanding the current state of the legacy system, identifying areas that need modernization, and setting realistic goals for the transformation. 

It is important to involve all relevant stakeholders, including top management, and to provide adequate training and support for the teams involved. Incremental changes, rather than a complete overhaul, can help manage risks and ensure smoother transitions. Additionally, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and adaptability is essential for the success of the agile transformation.